Tag Archives: Bessie Blount

On this day in 1536 – Henry FitzRoy died

Henry FitzRoy was the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount and was born on 15th June 1519. With his legitimate wife, Katherine of Aragon, pregnant Henry would take up with a mistress and on this occasion it resulted in the birth of a son. Henry had loved wanted a son and heir, something that Katherine had yet given him. As a result Henry formally recognised his illegitimate child as his own. With Bessie Blount’s pregnancy becoming noticeable she was taken from the royal court and housed in the Augustinian priory of St Lawrence at Blackmore, Essex where she would go into confinement and give birth.

The significance of this new born son whose birth was kept secret at the time meant that Henry now had an heir to the throne and appointed Cardinal Wolsey as his godfather. The other godparents are unknown.

Henry named his son after himself and chose the surname of FitzRoy, which stood for ‘son of the King’ Henry, wanted everyone to know that this child was his. Henry even showed his son off to the court although the exact location is unknown but Henry was certainly proud of his new son.

Not much is known about the young Henry until he entered Bridewell Palace in June 1525, it is believed that he was raised in the royal nursery and was regularly at court. It is also believed that Lady Bryan cared for the infant, at the fall of Anne Boleyn in 1536 wrote a letter that stated that she had looked after Henry’s firstborn, Mary as well as the children that followed. This would have included Elizabeth and most likely Henry FitzRoy.

In 1525 Henry FitzRoy was granted his own home, Durham House on the Strand by the King. Further still the King honoured his son. On the 18th June 1525 the young Henry travelled from Wolsey’s mansion of Durham Place, Charing Cross by barge down the Thames to Bridewell Palace. At 9am the barge arrived and the party made their way to the King’s lodgings. They were greeted by a room full of nobility and bishops including, Charles Brandon and Thomas Howard.

In the first ceremony Henry FitzRoy was created the Earl of Nottingham, in this service he was attended by Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland who carried the sword of state. Also present was William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel and John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford. Sir Thomas More read out the patents of nobility and for the first time in four centuries an illegitimate son was raised into the peerage. Henry left the ceremony but returned instantly in his new robes with the Earl of Arundel carrying the cap of estate with a circlet, the Marquess of Dorset carrying the sword, the Earl of Northumberland carrying his robes and the Earl of Oxford with a rod of gold. As another patent was read out Henry FitzRoy was declared the Duke of Richmond and Somerset and now referred to as the ‘right high and noble prince Henry, Duke of Richmond and Somerset’.

Henry was also granted many lands, many of which came from the estate of Margaret Beaufort, the young Duke’s great-grandmother. He was also granted an annuity of £4845 per year.

Later in the year the Duke of Richmond and Somerset was granted further honours which included; Lord High Admiral of England, Lord President of the Council of the North and the Warden of the Marches towards Scotland. The Duke was also raised at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire, the former home of King Richard III. Henry was later made Lord-Leiutenant of Ireland.

On 28th November 1533 aged 14, Henry FitzRoy was married to Lady Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.

After the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536 and Act was beginning to go through Parliament that disinherited not only Mary Tudor but now also Elizabeth as well. It also gave the King the power to choose his successor, regardless of legitimacy. Although there is no evidence that Henry was planning on making his illegitimate son the new heir to the throne, this bill would have allowed this to have happened.

On 22rd July 1536, Henry FitzRoy died, he reportedly suffered from consumption and died at St James’s Palace, London. His father in law, the Duke of Norfolk, arranged for his body to be buried in Thetford Priory, Norfolk where only two attendants were present at the burial. His body was later reinterred at St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk due to the dissolution of the monasteries.

With that the King was again without a son, until the birth of his legitimate son a short time after.

Henry FitzRoyHenry FitzRoy Duke of Richmond and Somerset

On this day in 1530 – Baron Gilbert Tailboys died

Gilbert Tailboys was born in 1497 to Sir George Tailboys and his wife Elizabeth.

In 1520 Tailboys was married to Elizabeth Blount, otherwise known as Bessie, former mistress to King Henry VIII and mother to Henry’s son Henry Fitzroy. Fitzroy was the only illegitimate child that Henry acknowledged. This is likely because Bessie was unmarried it was normal for illegitimate children to be known as the son or daughter of the husband even if the child was born as the result of an affair.

Not much is known of Tailboys early life but his father George was declared insane in 1517 and Gilbert was sent to court under the protection of Cardinal Wolsey. His links with Wolsey is a probable reason as to why he was selected to marry Bessie Blount after her relationship with the King ended.

It appears that Gilbert and Bessie had a successful marriage, they had three children of their own, two boys called George and Robert and a girl named Elizabeth.

As step father to a potential heir to the throne Gilbert was granted many lands in Warwickshire and Yorkshire. In 1527 he was appointed as a gentleman of the king’s chamber with a further appointment in 1526 as High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.

Gilbert Tailboys was created Baron Tailboys of Kyme on 1st December 1529 but died on 15th April 1530 and was buried in Kyme Church.

Book review – The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII

We all know the story of the six wives of Henry VIII and how their relationships ended but what about the women who didn’t make queen but still captured the heart of the king? Amy Licence has set out in this book to look at the woman that Henry encountered.

Amy Licence takes a chronological look at Henry VIII’s life we delve into the times of his life without Henry taking centre stage and let the women shine. We start at Katherine of Aragon and her marriage to Prince Arthur. An interesting theory is offered about whether or not their marriage was consummated. No spoilers here though you’ll have to read the book yourself to see it! We read how Henry and Katherine came together and reigned over the country in unison. Amy Licence also describes in detail how Katherine’s court was run and the pressure she was under to deliver Henry a male heir.

The story continues with Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn and how he juggled two relationships at once, playing the loving husband and father to his wife whilst acting as the doting lover to his mistress. The book also shows how Henry’s search for an annulment to his wife destroyed one woman and elevated another to the position of queen. We see how Anne Boleyn keeps the king’s interest in the years before their wedding in order to protect her virginity if she was indeed still a virgin! The fall of Anne is captured in a way that is easy to understand why she was charged with treason.

Like Henry’s relationship with Katherine and Anne, dealing with two partners at the same time, we learn that Henry again repeats history by juggling Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. Licence debates an interesting theory for Henry and Jane’s hasty marriage after the death of his former queen; was Jane already pregnant? Following Jane there are two shorts sections on his next queens Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Although short they are packed full of amazing detail of their relationships with Henry and how they came to be married to the King of England.

The final section is dedicated to Henry’s sixth and final wife Catherine Parr how she forfeited marrying for love to accept Henry’s offer, the book covers how she was almost arrested for her religious beliefs but knew how to treat Henry to avoid falling into the same fate as many wives before her. We also see what happens to Catherine after Henry’s death.

As well as covering Henry’s six wives the book also deals with the known and unknown mistresses of Henry as they happen within Henry’s timeline. We learn more about Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn the only two women definitely known as Henry’s mistresses. Most importantly though we learn about the women that Henry encountered and possibly had relationships with. Perhaps the reason we don’t hear more about these women is that Henry was highly private as Licence discusses throughout. His attempt to protect his wives and his reputation means that we don’t know these women as well as we should. Henry truly believed what happened behind his bedroom doors stayed private.

This book is highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about the women in Henry’s life from his well documented wives to the mistresses and potential wives we know little about. A book that is fascinating from start to finish, it is a book you’ll find difficult to put down as you want to learn more with each turn of the page.

The six wives and many mistresses of Henry VIII